Congratulations, you're about to embark on one of the most rewarding and challenging journeys of having an infant - chest/breastfeeding. As lactation experts and advocate for breastfeeding, the team at Healthy Horizons has seen many new families struggle with this beautiful yet demanding aspect of raising a baby. In this article, we'll share five invaluable insights that we wish we had known about breastfeeding before having a baby. These tips will empower you to navigate the ups and downs of breastfeeding and create a nurturing experience for both you and your little one.
- Chest/Breastfeeding is a Learning Process
One of the most crucial things to remember about breastfeeding is that it's a learning process for both mother and baby. As natural as it may seem, breastfeeding requires practice and patience. Some babies latch effortlessly from the start, while others may take time to find their rhythm. Don't be discouraged if you encounter difficulties in the beginning. Seek support from experienced lactation consultants who can provide guidance and encouragement. Remember, your baby is also adjusting to this new world and learning to feed as much as you are learning to breastfeed.
- Proper Latch and Positioning are Key
A proper latch is fundamental to successful breastfeeding. Ensuring your baby is latching correctly will prevent discomfort, pain, and improve milk transfer. Key points to remember are:
Positioning: Hold your baby close to you, with their body facing yours. Their nose should align with your nipple, and their mouth should be wide open before latching. Here is a YouTube video that demonstrates how to hold your baby while breastfeeding.
Latch: When your baby latches, ensure that they take in a significant portion of the areola along with the nipple. A shallow latch can lead to sore nipples and hinder efficient milk flow. Here is a YouTube video that explains proper latch.
Comfort: Breastfeeding should not be painful. If you experience discomfort or pain, gently break the latch and try again. Seeking assistance from a lactation consultant can be beneficial in correcting any latching issues.
- Breast Milk Supply Fluctuations are Normal
Breast milk supply is a common concern for new parents. It's essential to understand that milk supply can fluctuate throughout your breastfeeding journey. During the early days, your baby will have frequent feeding sessions to stimulate milk production and establish a robust supply. As your baby grows and their feeding patterns change, your body will naturally adjust to their needs.
Remember, breastfeeding works on a supply-and-demand basis. The more your baby feeds, the more milk your body will produce. Trust your body and your baby's cues. Avoid comparing yourself to others or stressing over the amount of milk you produce. If you're concerned about your milk supply, consult a lactation expert or your healthcare provider for personalized advice. There are also some wonderful lactation supplements, and teas/treats available to help boost milk supply!
- The Power of Support and Self-Care
Breastfeeding can be physically and emotionally demanding. It's crucial to establish a support system and prioritize self-care during this time. Surround yourself with supportive family members, friends, online communities, and join a breastfeeding support group where you can share your experiences and receive encouragement.
Ensure you're nourishing yourself with a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, and getting enough rest. Guide your employer to a well known resource for workplace lactation rooms, so you’re able to continue to be supported when you return to work. Remember, taking care of yourself allows you to provide the best care for your baby. If you feel overwhelmed or exhausted, don't hesitate to ask for help, and consider enlisting the support of your partner or loved ones to take over some tasks, so you can focus on breastfeeding and bonding with your baby.
- Breastfeeding Is More Than Just Nutrition
While breast milk is the most nutritious food for your baby, breastfeeding is more than just a means of nourishment. It's a powerful way to bond with your little one and provide them with comfort, security, and love. Breastfeeding promotes skin-to-skin contact, releases bonding hormones, and fosters a deep emotional connection between parent and child.
Embrace this intimate time with your baby and be present in the moment. As your baby grows, you will cherish these breastfeeding memories. Remember that breastfeeding is a personal journey, and every mother, baby, and family is unique. Embrace the experience and be proud of the gift you are giving your child through breastfeeding.